By ANI FREEDMAN
BEDFORD – A small group shouted at keynote speaker Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania during the first part of his speech Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Midterm Convention at Bedford High School, but he wound up with a standing ovation by the end of it.
Shapiro’s critics were apparently upset at his not committing on a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases, chanting against fossil fuels. It was unclear if they represented a specific group.
Shapiro commended the protestors for speaking out as representatives of democracy.
“Dangerous extremists are working behind the scenes and on our screens to undermine our democracy,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro is considered a possible nominee for the 2028 presidential election. The former attorney general of Pennsylvania recounted his success in making Pennsylvania an automatic voter registration state and the quick re-opening of the interstate I-95 following its collapse in June at the Pennsylvania Route 73 interchange in Northeast Philadelphia.
Shapiro acknowledged the work of Merrimack state representatives against PFAS pollution, citing the ability of the Democratic Party “to get things done” and “make people’s lives better in the Granite State.”
“I know you’re ready to elect a Democratic governor to lead the way next year,” Shapiro said. “We will be there for whoever you choose as your nominee.”
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, who are both vying to run as the Democratic nominee for governor, also addressed the group.
Several New Hampshire legislators spoke about the Democratic Party, including event co-chairs Rep. Ben Ming, D-Hollis, and Rep. Catherine Rombeau, D-Bedford.
“We’re here to turn the state blue for good,” Rombeau said.
The dim lighting of the auditorium illuminated a half-full room at first, with more guests trickling in as the morning went on.
Echoing the theme of the convention, Rep. Kat McGhee, D-Hollis, said before the event began, “We need to get in the majority.”
Convention Co-Chair Ming introduced the Congressional delegation who all spoke via video recorded speeches.
“Our federal delegation was not able to attend this morning, as they are fighting to keep the government open,” said Ming. The all-Democratic delegation includes U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Maggie Hassan, Congressman Chris Pappas representing New Hampshire’s 1st District, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster of New Hampshire’s 2nd District, who remained in Washington, D.C. Saturday.
“It’s time to strengthen our democracy, not undermine it,” Shaheen said.
She announced her support for several candidates, including President Joe Biden. “Let’s make sure President Joe Biden wins the first-in-the-nation primary, no matter what the hell the DNC says,” Shaheen said.
Hassan recounted the various triumphs of New Hampshire Democrats, including “taking on Big Pharma, to lower prescription drug prices.”
Hassan emphasized the importance of beating Donald Trump in 2024. “He simply cannot be president again,” Hassan said. “By organizing, talking to our neighbors, and getting out the vote, I know we can stand up and continue to win races up and down the ballot.”
Newly appointed Chair of the New Hampshire High School Democrats, Aarika Roy, told the crowd: “We firmly believe that the time to get involved is now…” to “keep New Hampshire blue.”
Other speakers included Democratic candidate for mayor of Manchester, Kevin Cavanaugh. “This city is for all of us, regardless of what you do for work, who you love, where you moved here from,” Cavanaugh said. “This state is for all of us.”
A video promoting the election of a Democratic governor played just before House Democratic Leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm, D-Manchester, took to the stage.
Wilhelm said the values of House Republicans are “not the values of Granite Staters,” criticizing attacks on “wokeism” through banning books and restrictions on what can be taught in public schools.
After Shapiro’s speech concluded, the convention transitioned to workshops for policymakers, including advice on campaigning, organizing, and building strategic plans.